Unearthing Urban Narratives. Towards a Repository of Methods

Working Group 3


  • Dalia Milián Bernal Tampere University
  • Carlos Machado e Moura University of Porto




Urban narratives offer a situated, experiential and subjective window into urban places. They come in spoken, visual and written forms and can be queried through a variety of approaches and methods. This contribution draws on the work of WG3–Methodological Framework of the COST Action–Writing Urban Places and reflects on the quest to find and bring together different methods and approaches to unearth, understand and retell urban narratives. 

We begin this essay by contextualizing the growing interest in narratives within the multidisciplinary field of urban studies and acknowledging the need for methods and approaches to find, analyse, represent and construct such narratives. Following this introduction, we briefly describe the task of WG3 and broadly present the range of methods that were collected as well as the interesting outputs that were produced, including a special issue in a journal, an interactive and iterative online platform, an international digital conference, a book with around 50 methods and assignments, and a set of postcards to disseminate them. 

Subsequently, we reflect on this process and discuss the way in which: it helped visualize the often hidden spaces/sites/places where narratives can be found; it unsettled our understanding of what constitutes an urban narrative as well as a method and what these methods are for; and it illustrated the potential of narratives as a medium not only to unlock and generate situated, subjective and experiential knowledge about urban places, but also to mobilize ideas that may even shape urban futures. 

Author Biographies

Dalia Milián Bernal, Tampere University

Dalia Milián Bernal – Co-leader WG3 – is a doctoral researcher and lecturer in the School of Architecture, Faculty of the Built Environment at Tampere University in Finland. Her background is in the field of architecture and her current research focuses on the temporary uses of vacant and abandoned urban spaces in the context of Latin America. Delving into online arenas, following several cases and applying different analytic methods of narrative inquiry, she aims to explain why temporary uses develop across Latin American cities and to unearth their deeper meaning. Currently, she teaches sociospatial aspects of sustainable architecture, critical urban theory and, since 2019, she coordinates the IFHP Urban Planning and Design Summer School in Finland. She is the co-founder of the collective-blog Interrogativa, a platform that discusses diverse urban processes through the perspective of women and their experience of urban space. 

Carlos Machado e Moura, University of Porto

Carlos Machado e Moura – Leader WG3 – is an architect (FAUP, 2006), postgraduate in Architectural Heritage (CEAPA-FAUP, 2013), PhD candidate (PDA-FAUP/FCT, 2015) and integrated researcher at the University of Porto (CEAU-FAUP). He currently lectures at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP) and the School of Art, Architecture and Design of the University of Minho (EAAD), and is deputy editor-in-chief of J–A Jornal Arquitectos (2022-2024). Carlos is also a researcher of the project (EU)ROPA Rise of Portuguese Architecture (CES-UC), and the author of books like Building Views (Circo de Ideias, 2017) and Casas Quinhentistas de Castelo Branco (CMCB/Argumentum, 2008). Alongside his practice as an architect with MAVAA, Carlos co-organized several initiatives about drawing and was assistant curator of the ‘Physics of Portuguese Heritage’ exhibition (DGPC, 2018-19) and Open House Porto 2016. His work has received several awards and recognitions, including Premio Architettura Toscana 2022, Prémio Távora 2020, an honourable mention by Premio Architetto Italiano 2020 and the award of merit of AZ Awards 2019. 


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How to Cite

Milián Bernal, D., & Machado e Moura, C. (2023). Unearthing Urban Narratives. Towards a Repository of Methods: Working Group 3. Writingplace, (8-9). https://doi.org/10.7480/writingplace.8-9.7251